South Florida Smackdown- #15 FAU defeats FIU in blowout victory 


By Robbie Lastella

Final: FAU 94 – FIU 60

Boca Raton, FL- FAU Vs FIU is a matchup that has brought some fiery affairs in its history. Tonight it was a different story, as the Owls dominated the Panthers in a wire to wire 94-60 victory. 

“We are pleased that we were able to carry over some of the things that we worked on in practice, based on the Illinois game. Our activity was really good in the gaps, we supported the ball handling and the defender guarded the ball. I didn’t think we played exceptionally well, but we took care of the ball against the #1 turnover forcing team in the country,” Coach Dusty May said after the game. 


It was a dominant game offensively and defensively for FAU, but early on it was the defense that stole the show- and a suffocating performance helped the Owls jump out to a 10 point lead just 6 minutes into the game. Vlad was able to win some early paint battles against Pickney and it led to an aggressive performance from everybody. After the game, Coach May talked about his team’s important defensive effort and how they improved from the Illinois loss.

“We were active and when we went back and looked at the tape Illinois simply tried to space the floor and play 1 on 1 basketball, they did a good job at it but we weren’t very  disciplined in  our gaps and our personnel awareness. I thought our guys were really on it, we had more time to prep it was a home game, so there were some built in advantages, but we improved in that (defensive) department,” Coach May said. 

It was a team effort the entire game, but especially offensively- as no one tried to steal the show and it led to solid looks for everybody from the field. FAU had 5 players score a basket in the first 6 minutes and it really continued that way for the first half and throughout the game. Nelly led the way at the half with 14, but Bryan Greenlee and Vlad Goldin were right behind him with 8 and 6 respectively. After the game, Bryan Greenlee spoke on the importance of performing well as a team following the loss to Illinois. 

“It was great. We were just focusing on our response. We were slow last game and weren’t playing like ourselves, I think it was important for us to get our mojo back and really get connected as a team,” Greenlee said. 


FIU’s defensive game plan of pestering the ball handler and forcing FAU to get out of character offensively, didn’t work early on and the Owls were able to build leads of 20+ all throughout the first half. With FIU struggling to score themselves- carrying a 27% clip into the break, it was all FAU at the half, leading 43-20. FIU led the nation in steal % coming into the game, but at the break FAU was the one capitalizing on turnovers scoring 12 points off of them compared to FIUs 2. 

With FAU leading by 23 at the half and cruising, the second half could have started in a bit of a lull for the Owls and possibly allowed FIU to get back into it. That did not happen and instead Brandon Weatherspoon came out guns blazing. He hit 3 straight triples, ending a bit of a cold stretch personally and jolting the Owls to a 52-20 lead- which they never looked back on. After the game, Coach May talked about the importance of that stretch.

“When you have a nice lead at half, if you come out flat and they score 6 straight the game could feel a lot different. So with spoon knocking them down, and most importantly our guys playing really good basketball, they shared it, took what the game gave, they created for their teammates. Spoon did what he does he knocked them down I thought it was a result of his teammates and himself playing good basketball,” Coach May said. 

FAU was able to take the momentum from the hot start and run with it, jumping to a lead near 40 at times and creating highlight plays for everybody. Enjoying a large lead, the Owls were able to play some of their depth players and they excelled. Alejandro Ralat was able to put a defender in a bit of a spin cycle and score, while Isaiah Gaines threw one down that got the whole building rocking. After the game, Coach May spoke on the play of his depth players. 


“I thought the last 4 minutes was rewarding as any. To see the group of guys come in here that don’t get a lot of time in games and play good basketball, those guys looked good they shared it I thought they had great force and power around the rim,” Coach May said. 

It was that kind of night for FAU, as even the role players were able to find success and play valuable minutes in this one. The Owls next matchup will be a bit more difficult, as the Bonnies of St.Bonaventure are playing well and will look to upset FAU on their own court. After the game Johnell Davis talked about what the team will take away from this one as they look forward to the Bonnies. 

“The energy we played with on defense, try to take that with us,” Davis said.

The Owls will need all that energy and then some against a talented non power 5 program like St.Bonaventure, but this team is battle tested and prepared. Owls fans can watch that one at 4 pm est on Saturday with the game being broadcast on ESPN+. 

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